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Hemp Building Association Votes on 'Best Hemp Home 2024'

Updated: Jun 26

The Lower Sioux Hempcrete team finished the walls of The Raft duplex in just 17 days. Photo courtesy of Danny Desjarlais

By US Hemp Building Assn

US Hemp Building Association members at the Members Online Event June 15 voted for the top Hemp House built in the past year.

Eleven hemp structures built in 2023-2024 were submitted to the contest, which was divided into smaller structures under 900 sq. feet and larger homes above that size.

The winning house was not the most expensive or glamorous structure in the contest. Instead, a modest 1,484 sq. foot duplex covered with vinyl siding took the top prize. The Lower Sioux Hemp Group in Morton, MN won first place with “The Raft,” two 1 bed/1 bath housing units.

Crew leader Danny Desjarlais shared the inspiring story of the project which won the hearts and votes of trade association members. 

The Lower Sioux's first hempcrete project started on an abandoned foundation on the reservation -- and walls were completed in just 17 days, Desjarlais said

“We didn’t have any blueprints or architect or engineer,” Desjarlais explained. Using the Ereasy spray-cast system on the outer 12-inch walls, a team of five spray-applied 1,200 cu. feet of Minnesota-grown hemp locally grown and from Waconia, MN-based Hemp Acres

Inside between the two units, the team hand-cast a 10-inch divider wall. The team saved time by spraying against a vapor-permeable house wrap attached onto outer walls, “which worked perfectly,” Desjarlais said.

Using local community members kept labor costs down and eliminated the expense of hiring subcontractors. The project was sided with vinyl siding, to look like the other homes on the reservation, Desjarlais said.

“We didn't go with all of the high-end fixtures and all of the high-end finishes, but we weren't building for that reason,” Desjarlais said. “We're building these houses so our community members can have homes to live in.”

The total price for the project was $200,000, including buying equipment and supplies, or around $171 per sq. ft.

“A powerful part of the story is just the attainable price for people in our community, and then you add all of the great things about hemp and it just makes it that much more cool, I guess,” he added.

The Raft hempcrete duplex on the Lower Sioux reservation in Morton, MN won the USHBA Best Home 2024 Contest

Winner Under 900 sq. ft

Under 900 sq. ft. winner: 420 sq. foot hempcrete cabin in Cleburne, TX.

The winner in the smaller structure category (under 900 sq. ft.) was owner-builder Andrew Hancock of Limelife Construction.

Hancock’s 420-sq. ft cabin in Cleburne, TX included a 140 sq. ft  loft. The home featured a Mueller metal roof with 4-foot overhangs and an incinerator toilet system.  The project used reclaimed windows, doors, sinks, porch tin roof and loft flooring.

The house features 8,000 lbs of Texas-grown hemp, processed locally and mixed with local Texas lime. The project used 850 cubic feet of hemp-lime in exterior and interior walls;  Hempwool batt insulation in the rafters and floor joists and natural HempWood flooring on the main level. Outer walls were plastered with lime plaster and interior walls with American Clay plasters. Butcher block counters were sealed with hempseed oil. 

“My focus on this project was 'reduce, reuse, recycle,' and also [to stay] local,” Hancock said. “So wherever my local contractors, my local materials as best I could,” he added.

Other homes in the contest included:

The Hemp Healthy Home, Wildwood GA

Presented by owner builders Keith and Katie Bien, the 3 bedroom single-family home was made from the blocks imported from HempBLOCK International. The roof is insulated with 9" of hemp wool from Hempitecture. Principals included home designer George Tarran and engineer Hady Makhmalbaf.

Paonia, CO Hempcrete Home

Presented by owners Bruce Woodside and Bronwyn Barry, the Paonia, CO house is part of a permaculture project on the Western Slope of Colorado. Co-owner Bruce helped design the home. The home has about 2,600 sf living space, including two bedrooms, two baths and a large studio/office. The house also has an attached garage and construction is ongoing on an attached greenhouse. Hemp was sourced from South Bend Industrial Hemp in Great Bend Kansas. Principals included: Art Wisehart, General Contractor and Odisea LLC Paonia, Structural Engineers. The Wisehart team included Kael Frank, who did all the onsite hemp mixing and application, plus ALL the plaster walls, both interior and exterior.

Other contestants (Large Home category)

Menard, TX Ranch Home - The 1440 sq. ft 2 bed/2 bath single family residence was built using cast-in-place and blocks of hemp lime insulation. The project was designed and built by Tim White and the Texas Healthy Homes team. 

Hemp Home and Studio, LaVeta, CO - The home is a 1,600 sq ft residential 2 bed 2 bathroom house with a hempcrete garage/greenhouse. The home was designed by owner Aliyah Field, of Adamah Designand was hempcreted using cast-in-place by the Hemp Building Company.

Maui Hemp House - The house is a 1,250 sq. ft.3 bedroom home in Kula, HI. The house was built by general contractor Joseph Smith with consulting by Sergiy Kovalenkov.

JellyBeanz Tirehouse - The house is a 900 sq ft, 2 bedroom hempcrete roundhouse with lime plaster finish in Fennville, MI. The house was designed and built by owners Clayton and Kim. Hempcrete was spray applied by Kim Croes of Fiber Fort with staff. Plaster was installed by Tim White.  The house is an AirBNB OMG House contest winner and will be used as a short-term rental. 

Smaller Hemp Structure Category

Blanco, TX Hempesuim House- The Hempesium Home is a 280 sq.ft. (1 bedroom) tiny home located at the Saoirse Learning Center. The house features 12 windows for lots of light. Walls were built with the cast-in-place method using hemp hurd and Magnesium Oxide. The use of MgO means “no curing time, a more forgiving material for non-construction types and no possibility of mold issues!” Principals were instructors James Sledge and Parker Johnson.

Austin, TX Hempcrete ADU- The home is a 812 square feet, two-story accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in Austin, TX. The layout includes one bedroom and office plus a bathroom. General Contractor Carl Gradek worked around two trees, including a designated City of Austin Heritage Tree. 

Celina, TN, Off-Grid Hempcrete Cabin - The house is an off-grid cabin in progress with 770 sq. feet divided on 2 floors with a basement underneath. Engineer Kevin Sigl has designed and is building the whole structure himself. 

The contest has grown from last year's event, which had only five contestants.

"We are seeing more projects and examples of ingenuity as this industry advances," said USHBA President Ray Kaderli. "All of these projects are inspiring to our membership."

This article has been updated to correct the lavatory system on the Cleburne, TX house to an incinerator toilet. 

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